Gambino takes over Charleroi football program

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Thursday, March 17, 2022 | 12:05 AM


The Charleroi Area School Board found their man to take over the Cougars football program.

Mark Gambino, most recently an assistant coach on Mike Collodi’s staff at Elizabeth Forward, was hired Tuesday with a unanimous vote by the board.

“It all happened really fast,” Gambino said Wednesday. “I was contacted to gauge my interest in the job, I interviewed and that’s it. It’s kind of like a whirlwind right now.

“It’s like ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ there. Everyone was so nice, outgoing and seemed really interested in everything I had to say and offer. I’m really excited to get in there and get things going.”

Superintendent Dr. Ed Zelich said the athletic committee of the board, the athletic director and himself, were impressed with Gambino.

“We had 26 candidates and narrowed it down to six or seven,” Zelich said. “They were all great coaches and very qualified, but it became evident that he was the guy.

“He has this thing he does, that they do at Elizabeth Forward as well, that he actually sits down with players after practices or workouts. He asks them about themselves, school and he really gets to know them off the field as well. He’s a real relationship builder.

“When he addressed the board at the meeting, he actually teared up talking about leaving EF and the student-athletes in that program. It really resonated with us. We know he’s going to bring the same goal of building the same types of relationship with his players here at Charleroi. He knows it may take some time to rebuild things here, but building those relationships is how it all starts.”

Collodi said EF players were supportive and upset they were losing their assistant coach, who guided the defense for three years before becoming the linebackers coach and staking a spot in the booth to be the eyes and ears upstairs.

“I hate to see him go, but I’m so happy for him. I know he wanted to be a head coach and an opportunity presented itself,” Collodi said. “His work ethic is unreal, a true grinder. I know Charleroi will be successful based on how he is.

“He cares and he won’t take any shortcuts.”

Gambino, who is also coaching track this spring at West Mifflin, said he plans to meet with the football team next week.

“I’m excited to meet all the kids and some of the other people over there,” he said. “I’ve thought about things over the past couple of years, like if I wanted to go out there and get a head coaching job. I loved being under Coach Collodi and all the kids at EF. I’m still kind of shocked at how fast things are moving.”

Gambino takes over for Brady Barbero, who recently resigned as the head football coach and athletic director at Charleroi, citing personal reasons. Barbero will remain as athletic director through the end of the spring sports season, Zelich said.

Last season, the Cougars went 2-7 and 2-4 in Century Conference play. Their wins came against Waynesburg (28-7) and Frazier (33-6).

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